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How the media frame the news
and what journalists should consider

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by Maggie Cogar

Title

How the media frame the news and what journalists should consider

*The lesson plan “How people interpret the news and why it matters” is meant to be used before this lesson. It will help give students a background on news interpretation and processing before moving on to news framing and effects.

Description
Journalists are taught to be objective, so they don’t “frame” stories” … or do they? Whether consciously or unconsciously, research suggests time and time again that what the media decides to cover, and how they cover it, ultimately influences what people find important and how they interpret the news. So it’s important for journalists to consider their story angle, word choice and even interview questions to be sure they don’t rely on social stereotypes, which could potentially be inaccurate, to tell their stories.

Objectives

  • Students will explain and discuss how the media frame content.
  • Students will evaluate word choice and story angle in existing news stories.
  • Students will apply these concepts to their own writing, by adjusting interview questions, story angle and word choice as needed.
  • In the extension assignment, students will research a specific topic to see how the media frames it (i.e. female athletes, climate change, etc.).

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

Length

50 minutes

Materials / resources

Clip: Framing video clip

Slideshow: See How the media frame the news at the bottom of the lesson

Also see: Related lesson plan

Lesson step-by-step

Step 1 —  Entrance Activity (5 minutes)

Show the following video clip from the tv show Scandal, that considers gender stereotypes in the news (refer back to previous lesson plan on news interpretation for the social construction of gender) … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1oyIEgDWAQ

Step 2 — Lecture & Class Discussion (20 minutes)

Use the framing slideshow (with instructor notes) to discuss how the media frames the news. (see the bottom of the lesson)

Step 3 — Framing Activity (20 minutes)

Students will …

  • Make four columns on a piece of paper and label them story angle, visuals, design and word choice
  • Read this story and takes notes in each column with overall impressions in each category.
  • Questions to consider:
    • What is the main angle of the story? Is it biased? One sided?
    • Do the visuals match the main angle of the story? Do the visuals enhance understanding of the story or distract from it?
    • How does the overall design of the story frame it? I.e. what is main angle of the story as told by the design?
    • Are there any words used in the story that could have loaded meaning or be interpreted the wrong way? Are there any words that may paint the picture in a more positive or negative light?

Step 4 — Exit Slip (5 minutes)

On a piece of paper respond:

Will what you learned today impact what you do as a journalist? How?

Extension

Have students research a specific group or issue to see how the media portrays it. Examples of research topics include …

  • Gender (specifically they could look at female athletes, female politicians, parent roles, male models or athletes, etc.)
  • Race (they can look at this in relation to many things like race & athletes, race & criminal coverage, etc.)
  • Climate change
  • Abortion
  • Equal marriage

Further resources: Links to stories to analyze framing

http://www.startribune.com/search-firm-knew-of-st-paul-superintendent-candidate-s-bankruptcy/425706293/

http://www.dispatch.com/article/20160125/NEWS/301259783

How the media frame the news slideshow

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